Karen is a bookseller and Author Events Co-Coordinator at Elliott Bay, and you'll also see her selling books at our events around the city. She has worked in bookstores since 1989 and in 2017 won a Seattle Arts and Lectures Prowda Literary Champions Award. She has served on numerous jury and awards panels for a variety of literary organizations, including Hedgebrook Writer's Retreat, the Washington State Book Awards, the NEA Big Read Book Review Committee, the NEA Literary Translation Fellowships, the Kiriyama Prize, and the 2016 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Favorite books? Today they are The Emperor of All Maladies and A Little Life.

Reviews & Recommendations

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812984965
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Spiegel & Grau - August 18th, 2015

How free are we as Americans if we are living under a justice system that is fundamentally unfair?  Bryan Stevenson, founder of Equal Justice Initiative, is an attorney who has successfully defended some of society's most vulnerable and oppressed people in landmark cases before the Supreme Court. In Just Mercy, he asks us to contemplate a system in which children, the poor, the developmentally disabled and African Americans receive the harshest punishments, including the death penalty. This book touched me and made me think about what is being done to "make America a safer place." We are not safer in a system this unjust. 

American War Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451493583
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - April 4th, 2017

Why are old wars fought over and over and how does war related violence, trauma and displacement affect families and communities? American War will make you think about this, understand it better and care. 

Big Cat, Little Cat Cover Image
ISBN: 9781626723719
Availability: Out of Stock - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Roaring Brook Press - March 14th, 2017

Big Cat shows the ropes to his new roommate, Little Cat and they become best friends. After many years together, the Big Cat passes on and after some very lonely days, Little Cat is introduced to a newcomer and takes a new role.  A sweet and sad book that can be used to help children understand and talk about loss, whether of a pet or of a beloved elder family member or friend. Not too much is said here in the very simple words and pictures but it's just enough. 

Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620404935
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury USA - February 14th, 2017

When you read Bill Hayes' book, you'll understand exactly why Oliver Sacks fell in love with him. Includes photos taken by the author. A sexy, sad, exuberant love story about people who are not 25. And it's set in New York!

The Mother of All Questions Cover Image
ISBN: 9781608467402
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Haymarket Books - March 7th, 2017

This essential collection of recent essays by feminist writer Rebecca Solnit should be on everyone's bookshelf.  Crack it open and read "A Short History of Silence' or "Men Explain Lolita to Me."

The Plague and I Cover Image
ISBN: 9780295999784
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Washington Press - August 12th, 2016

I'm ecstatic that The Plague and I is back in print!  Many readers will know Seattle writer Betty MacDonald (1907-1958) for her bestselling memoir, The Egg and I, but my my favorite is her second memoir, in which she endures 8 months in a TB sanitorium in the 1930s--a time in which TB was often fatal and those taking "the cure" had to try to lie as still as possible for weeks and months, mostly in silence. Betty's observations about this very odd situation and her cast of characters make this book a delightful read. (Her lively, roommate "Kimi" was actually the writer Monica Sone, who went on to write her own memoir, Nisei Daughter, which is about growing up Japanese American (and spending time incarcerated in Minidoka during World War II). Betty MacDonald fans should also check out Paula Becker's new biography, Looking for Betty MacDonald: the Egg, the Plague, Mrs. Pigglewiggle and I. 

Moshi Moshi Cover Image
By Banana Yoshimoto, Asa Yoneda (Translator)
ISBN: 9781619027862
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint LLC - December 13th, 2016

How do our neighborhoods shape who we are and who we aspire to be? Read on. This warm and gentle novel, set in an old fashioned yet gentrifying Tokyo neighborhood might spur you to slow down, look around and take in what's around you. Probably my favorite of Banana Yoshimoto's many books. 

Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk Cover Image
ISBN: 9780306825330
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Da Capo Press - April 25th, 2017

This collection of stories from the early days of LA punk rock, edited and compiled by John Doe of X and Tom DeSavia, is told from the points of view of many who were there, including musicians, writers, artists and scenesters  You'll read about the Vex (always my favorite venue), of the many Latino punks, of the Plungers and the Wierdos, Claude Bessy and Philomena and Darby Crash, of course.  . You'll want to read it if you were there (and maybe more if you were late to the party). Also available on CD and as a digital download, with essays read by many of the writers. 

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393352290
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 18th, 2016

Marie Mutsuki Mockett's family has deep roots in Zen Buddhism and in the countryside so devastated by the 311 Tsunami/Fukushima disaster. Her story is takes us into Buddhism as it is llived and practiced in Japanese families. Bonds endure between the departed and those who remain. Beautiful.

Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804169714
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 3rd, 2016

Oh, the sky countries, by which pilots naviagate!.  Pilot/philosopher Mark Vanhoenacker takes us on a grand and beautiful adventure into his life and on his journeys on the long haul routes he flies. I'm a happier, more comfortable and much more knowledgable flier now, thanks to him. Extraordinary.